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172nd Great New York State Fair in Syracuse opens, Amtrak ticket brings free admission

Christian Fernsby |
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today kicked off the 172nd Great New York State Fair in Syracuse.

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Amtrak operates regular eastbound and westbound trains that use the special stop at the Fair
At the ribbon cutting, the Governor announced a new promotion to further drive attendance at the Fair - anyone with a valid Amtrak ticket dated between August 21 and September 2 will receive a free admission to the Fair by presenting the ticket or receipt at any Fair box office.

All Empire line trains will serve Taste NY products during the fair
The Governor and cabinet officials took the train from Albany to the Fair's special train stop to highlight the ease and environmentally-friendly way of attending the Fair by train. Amtrak operates regular eastbound and westbound trains that use the special stop at the Fair.

The Governor also announced three new projects aimed at continuing the forward momentum of the revitalization of the Fairgrounds including: GreenFair, an aggressive project to make the State Fair energy self-sufficient; a new, larger Gate 10 to be completed in time for next year's Fair; and the start of Phase 2 of the State Fair access improvement project to make the Fair more accessible for vehicles and pedestrians.

To promote attendance to the fair, two Amtrak cars on Empire Service line 63 were wrapped with specially-designed New York State Fair graphics and messaging.

All Empire line trains will serve Taste NY products during the fair, with Taste NY promotional materials distributed through seatback flyers, posters and table tents.

This will complement I LOVE NY's advertising and digital campaigns that encourage visitors to experience the fair as part of their next New York State vacation.

Tens of thousands of reusable bags are being given away every day of the Fair
The Fair will begin an aggressive project, called GreenFair, to become energy self-sufficient, eliminate waste and recycle every available item to create the greenest fair in America.

The plan will involve the installation of solar panels and the construction of wind turbines - upon completion of a detailed plan to determine exact locations - to capture renewable energy and reduce, eventually to zero, the need for energy from fossil fuels by 2023.

The Fair will also reduce the use of disposable plastic items and begin a pilot program to recycle food waste.

Additionally, a new pavilion for environmental education will be built.

The project directly supports Governor Cuomo's Green New Deal, a clean energy and jobs agenda that puts New York State on a path to a carbon neutral economy and supports the State's goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.

The Fairgrounds has already taken significant steps to reduce energy use.

The New York Power Authority completed in December 2018 an $866,000 project to replace lights in six of the Fairgrounds' major buildings with energy-efficient LED lighting, lowering energy costs by an estimated $23,000 per year.

The Fair will significantly reduce the use of disposable plastics.

The Fair and other state agencies will no longer give away single use plastic tote bags.

Tens of thousands of reusable bags are being given away every day of the Fair, in cooperation with other state agencies that exhibit at the Fair.

Fair vendors have been notified that beginning next year, single-use film plastic bags will not be permitted.

In addition, vendors will be required to provide food and beverages in recyclable or compostable containers.

This includes ending the use of plastic straws.

A major effort to get fairgoers to recycle returnable bottles, partnered with the Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fund of CNY, increased the number of bottles diverted from landfills.

The Fair will also create a waste sorting facility to divert recyclable or compostable items out of the trash and set up a pilot food waste recycling program.

The Fair will create an environmental stewardship pavilion on the western end of the Fairgrounds.

The new pavilion, which will be energy independent from day one, will educate fairgoers on ways they can reduce their energy footprint, update the progress of the GreenFair project, and highlight the state's energy and climate initiatives.

With the relocation for safety reasons of the Centro Park-N-Ride bus depot to the western end of the Fairgrounds, the lightly-used Gate 10 becomes a second main entrance to the Fairgrounds.

A $1.5 million project to replace the existing gate building will begin after the Fair and be complete in time for the 2020 Fair.

The new Gate 10, when complete, will be a larger gate structure - aesthetically similar to the Expo Center - including new fencing, paving, streetscaping, lighting and a large LED billboard.

The new gate will be the first of many improvements for the western end of the grounds.

Gates 3 and 4 along State Fair Boulevard were torn down earlier this year and replaced with more flexible facilities for ticketing and security.

Also in 2020, a new Sheep Barn will be built to replace the barn that was torn down earlier this year in the wake of high wind events that severely damaged the prior barn.

The Wool Center, a popular Fair exhibit focusing on demonstrations using wool, will also relocate to the new Sheep Barn.

Sheep are being exhibited in a tent this year.

Part of the space where the Sheep barn once stood has become Goat Park, featuring a fenced-in area where young goats can play and be seen by fairgoers, enhancing the Fair's efforts to bring people closer to agriculture.

Other ongoing and planned facilities improvements for the next year include continuing renovations of the Daniella's Catering and Events Steakhouse, formerly the Empire Room; acoustics improvements in the Exposition Center; a $1.1 million project to begin redeveloping agricultural buildings on the western of the grounds; improvements to the Fair's classic Center of Progress, Horticulture and other buildings; as well as other infrastructure projects.

Major construction on the $11.18 million New York State Fair Orange Lot Phase 2 project will begin after the conclusion of the 2019 Great New York State Fair. Preparatory work has already begun.

As part of the project, the State Department of Transportation will construct a new I-690 eastbound on-ramp bridge, ensuring that a temporary traffic signal on the highway will not be required during the State Fair after 2019.

The new I-690 eastbound on-ramp bridge will also accommodate pedestrians with a 10-foot pedestrian walkway that will help ease pedestrian traffic to and from the Orange lot. Construction will be complete in time for the 2020 State Fair.

Phase 2 of the State Fair Access improvement project will take Phase 1 a step further.

In addition to the new eastbound ramp, the project will finally address the temporary traffic signal that is installed on I-690 for the State Fair every year.

Access to the interstate is requested by NYSDOT and subject to approval by FHWA on a yearly basis.

Once the project is completed in 2020, there will be no further need for a traffic signal on I-690 during the Great New York State Fair.

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